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Getting past the blame game: Convergence and divergence in perceived threats to salmon resources among anglers and indigenous fishers in Canada’s lower Fraser River

Nguyen, Vivian M., Young, Nathan, Hinch, Scott G., Cooke, Steven J.
Ambio 2016 v.45 no.5 pp. 591-601
cognition, fisheries, fishermen, interviews, rivers, salmon, watersheds, Canada
This article examines threat perception as a potential dimension of inter-group conflict over salmon fisheries in Canada’s Fraser River watershed. Environmental changes and the entry of new user groups are putting pressure on both the resource and regulators, as well as threatening to exacerbate conflicts, notably between First Nation (indigenous) fishers and non-indigenous recreational anglers. While resource conflicts are often superficially conceptualized as cases of competing interests, we build on recent studies suggesting that conflicts are associated with deeper cognitive and perceptual differences among user groups. We report findings from 422 riverbank interviews with First Nation fishers and recreational anglers focusing on perceptions of threat to the fisheries. Responses reveal both substantial agreement and disagreement in threat perceptions between the two groups. These patterns provide a potential roadmap for consensus building, and suggest possible avenues for policy-makers to defuse the “blame game” that often dominates this type of conflict.